Tallahassee, Fla., Feb 21, 2020 / 03:21 pm (CNA).- The Florida bishops applauded Thursday the passage through both houses of the state legislature of a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking to procure abortion. The governor has said he intends to sign the bill.
The Florida House of Representatives passed SB 404 by a 75-43 vote Feb. 20. It had cleared the Senate by a 23-17 vote earlier this month.
“We praise our state’s legislative leaders for advancing this pro-life legislation, especially bill sponsors, Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Representative Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach), who took on the difficult task of guiding it through the committee process and onto the floor of the Senate and House,” the Florida bishops' conference said Feb. 20.
“We also commend the Democratic lawmakers who courageously crossed party lines and voted to ensure vital protections for parents and their children.”
The bill would require minors to received notarized approval from a parent or guardian, or to get consent from a judge after a hearing, before procuring an abortion.
Under the bill, minors seeking an abortion will be required to receive notarized approval from at least one parent, guardian, or from a judge. Doctors who perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18 would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.
The permission requirement would not apply in cases of “medical emergencies” when there is not sufficient time to obtain written permission from a parent.
The bishops noted that “Parental consent is required prior to a minor's medical treatment in most every instance, this includes simple medical interventions such as taking an aspirin or getting one’s ears pierced. This legislation is a common-sense measure that holds abortion to the same consent requirements as most every other medical decision involving a child.”
Ingrid Delgado, associate director for social concerns and respect life for the Florida bishops' conference, commented that “standards that relate to children's health care should apply especially in the context of abortion, which critically affects the lives of two children.”
Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, voted for the measure, calling it “a good bill for our children,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, a sponsor of the measure, said: “It is indisputable that abortion ends a life, and the decision to end a life is permanent and life-altering not only for the baby, but for the girl, the father and the family.”
Those opposed to the bill said it will create more difficulties for young girls who are already in a desperate situation, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, said that “we don't live in a Utopia where parents always love and advise their children and young girls never get pregnant.”
The Florida legislature first enacted a parental consent law in 1979, but the state Supreme Court struck it down a decade later, saying it violated privacy rights.
Governor Ron DeSantis has said he thinks parental consent “deserves to be reconsidered” at the court, adding that parents “want to be involved with what’s going on with their kids.”
The Florida House passed a similar bill last year, but it failed to make it out of Senate committees for full debate.
Existing Florida law requires a minor seeking to procure abortion to give notice to their parent, or a judge.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, 1,398 minors, 193 of whom notified a judge rather than her parents, procured abortion in the state in 2018.
Twenty-six states require parental consent for a minor's abortion.
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